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What is the difference between a venue coordinator and a wedding coordinator? As you plan your big day, it’s important to understand the answer to this question, and I’m thrilled to have Felicia Dale of Emerald Lotus Events—one of my favorite Lafayette, Indiana wedding planners and coordinators—serve as a guest blogger to answer this question!
What is the difference between a venue coordinator and a wedding coordinator? Aren’t they roughly the same thing? Well, you’ve come to the right person to answer this. As a wedding professional who has worked as a venue coordinator, wedding planner, and a wedding coordinator, I can tell you that all three of these jobs are quite different.
Unfortunately, though, the wedding industry hasn’t done the best job in portraying this, which can lead to buyer confusion, and the last you need when planning your wedding is more confusion.
I would love nothing more than to help you understand what services you are purchasing, so to get right down to the answer to the question, “Aren’t venue coordinators and wedding coordinators roughly the same thing?” Well . . . no. They aren’t.
What are a venue coordinators’ responsibilities?
A venue coordinator is a professional who works specifically for your venue and takes care of all things venue related, like opening the building, setting out the tables and chairs, and dimming the lights for open dancing.
A venue coordinator can be called many things, like an event planner or an event coordinator, but again, a venue coordinator works specifically for your venue and will likely be included in your venue package or agreement.
Now, another fun fact that adds a new layer to the onion is that not all venue coordinators are created equally, meaning depending on your venue, the venue coordinator may offer services that the venue across the street does not, so it is super important that you are asking the right questions when booking your venue. If you understand where your venue coordinators services start and where they stop, you can plan for ahead instead of scrambling to fill that service gap.
Do you know what questions you should ask wedding vendors before you book? Find out with the Simple Wedding Planning course!
Having a venue coordinator is valuable. They can be a skilled set of hands to have on deck for your wedding day. They complete some laborious tasks and can take a serious work load off of your plate.
Now, as all venue coordinators are different, I will speak in general terms of what they usually cover so you understand what to expect. Most will assist you with your:
- Floorplan, tables, and chairs
- Linen order and return (This can be a stressor, so it’s super nice to have someone do this for you.)
- Basic start times for dinner and reception activities and event end time
- Set-up and tear-down services for décor (This could be at an additional cost.)
What are a wedding coordinator’s responsibilities?
Where a venue coordinator takes care of all things building related, a wedding coordinator takes care of all things people: your wedding party, vendor management, the timing of all activities, and who is doing what and when.
While a venue coordinator works specifically for a venue and may be included in your venue package, a wedding coordinator is typically a wedding vendor that you will likely need to hire separate from your venue.
Once again, services can vary, but here are some general items a professional wedding coordinator will help you with:
- Vendor management
- Arrival time, set-up time, departure time
- Vendor needs and communication
- Timeline creation for the entire day
- Wedding party arrival times
- Task start times (decor, dressing, services)
- Processional details
- Reception activities
- Running your rehearsal
- Managing and running your wedding day and timeline on the big day itself
A wedding coordinator may assist with placing your decor if requested; however, much of their job is people logistics. In fact, 90% of a wedding coordinators’ job is creating and implementing a comprehensive timeline for the day from start to finish.
To avoid stress on your wedding day, you need a complete, comprehensive timeline, which isn’t a venue coordinator’s responsibility.
I have always said the most important aspect of an event is communication. Your day of timeline is the master plan for the biggest day of your life.
You may be asking yourself, “Why is the day of timeline important? Won’t the vendors just show up at their arrival time and do their thing?”
Yes, they will show up, and if you’ve hired a good vendor, they will do everything in their power to make your wedding day the best day of your life.
But, to drop some knowledge on you . . . Wedding vendors don’t communicate with each other. And, without a wedding coordinator, all communication falls to you.
For example, your baker isn’t going to call your caterer and ask if they will be completing the cake cutting service for you. This is where a wedding coordinator comes in. A wedding coordinator will design and look at your timeline to ensure the whole pie and all of the pieces fit together.
If you don’t have someone to run your wedding day, your wedding day will run you.
Let’s look at an example of how each vendor’s service can affect the other.
You’ve ordered flowers for the wedding cake from your florist. She’s scheduled to arrive at 12:00 pm. You’ve paid your baker for the service of placing the flowers on your cake, and she’s scheduled to arrive at 10:30 am. Your cake is delivered, but your cake flowers aren’t on site yet, and your baker has other deliveries and can’t stay to wait on the florist. So, she updates the venue coordinator and takes her leave.
Upon the florist’s arrival, the venue coordinator asks if she can place the flowers on the wedding cake, but you haven’t paid your florist for this service. Your florist will do it for you, however, there is a fee, and this cuts into the time she allocated to place your centerpieces, which pushes her completion time from 2:30 pm to 3:00 pm.
This then creates a problem for your photographer who had scheduled detail photos of your reception space for 2:30 pm. Your photographer will shoot what she can, but she has to be ready for your first look at 3:00 pm, which means your final gallery will include few reception detail photos—and you’re really excited about the way your reception space looks—at no fault of your photographer.
Now, to personalize the realness, imagine all these issues being dropped at your feet while you’re getting your hair done on your wedding day. How would that make you feel? I know it would make me feel exasperated and helpless, which is the worst, especially on your wedding day. To this, I say a firm no thank you.
A timeline doesn’t just cover your vendors’ responsibilities but your wedding parties’ and your families’ responsibilities. And, if your vendor and loved ones know what to do and when, this means fewer questions and stressors for you.
There are many moving pieces on a wedding day and the timeline brings them all together in the order they should be completed.
Even if you’re working with a venue coordinator, you still need someone to take charge of your timeline.
If your venue includes a venue coordinator, that’s wonderful! Like I said before, having a venue coordinator is certainly helpful and can relieve stress.
Ultimately, however, you need someone to be in charge of executing your timeline from start to finish.
I don’t tell you this to scare you into purchasing services; I’m sharing this with you so you understand why your timeline is important and how all of these moving parts affect each other. Forewarned is forearmed so go forth into wedded bliss armed with your timeline.
Basically, if you don’t have someone run your day, your day will run you.
If you would like to be able to truly relax and soak up your wedding day, I would recommend working with a wedding coordinator. When you hire a professional wedding coordinator, you are also hiring their experience and expertise, which can be a huge plus when building the timeline or guiding you through any mishaps. Trust me. When you add people to the mix, even the best laid plans can go sideways, and that is nobody’s fault. It’s just a fact. People are unpredictable, so having a professional can be worth their weight in wedding gold.
If you don’t hire a professional wedding coordinator, create the best timeline you can and ask a friend to execute your timeline the day of your wedding.
But, pretty please with sugar on top, don’t ask your bridesmaids or your mother to complete this job. Your bridesmaids will have so much on their to-do lists already, and this is a big day for mom too, so let her be there for you and enjoy this day with you. This is real work, so ask your organized and responsible friend to help you out.
I want you to have the best day. Cutting your stress and setting you up for success is my passion, my reason for living, my Chi. So, if you will be creating your own timeline, here are the top three things you need to consider while building it:
- Arrival times for everyone
- Set-up time needed
- The time the task needs to be completed (If you are DIY decorating, double the time. It always takes longer than you think.)
Want more wedding planning tips?!
I’ve got some other tips for you in “10 Wedding Things You Cannot Forget.” These are the most common things that seem to be forgotten that can turn into a big deal on a wedding day, so I created a resource to help you avoid these common “forgettables.” Download this resource here! (You’ll find it halfway down the page.)
I really hope you walk away understanding the benefits of using a venue coordinator and a wedding coordinator.
If you find you are curious about wedding coordination services you can check out my website www.emeraldlotusevents.com. Or, if you just have some questions in general, I’m happy to chat and help point you in the right direction. You can always reach out to me at [email protected] and pick up some more wedding tips and budget hacks by following me on Facebook and Instagram.
Wishing you the very best!
All photos featured in this blog post were taken by Nate Dale of New Adventure Productions—who happens to be Felicia’s amazingly talented husband! Nate is a destination wedding and elopement photographer based in Lafayette, Indiana.
About Felicia Dale of Emerald Lotus Events
Felicia Dale is a wedding planner and coordinator based in Lafayette, Indiana who is committed to empowering couples to have their wedding day their way.
While Emerald Lotus Events is based in the Lafayette area, Felicia plans and coordinates weddings and elopements throughout the world.